Summerhouse Survey and Testing

Archaeological Evaluation of the 515-Acre Summerhouse on Everett Bay Tract
Onslow County, North Carolina

A comprehensive archaeological investigation of the 515-acre Summerhouse on Everett Bay tract in Onslow County, North Carolina was requested by the Office of State Archaeology (OSA) to comply with Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) permit requirements and pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Regulations for Compliance with Section 106, codified as 36CFR Part 800. ACC, Inc. was contracted to assist with this investigation. The Summerhouse tract is located just outside the town of Holly Ridge, North Carolina.

Feature within a scrape

Field investigations began with a reconnaissance of the tract, which allowed for a customized approach to intensive field survey. During the course of the subsequent survey, 16 archaeological sites and two isolated finds were recorded. Of these, four sites, 31ON1578, 31ON1581, 31ON1582, and 31ON1589, initially appeared to meet National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) eligibility criteria. Testing strategies were subsequently developed to further evaluate these sites’ deposits. Testing activities at each of the four sites consisted of the excavation of multiple 1 by 2 meter units and a series of machine scrapes.

Shovel testing at site 31ON1578

Testing at site 31ON1578 yielded abundant artifacts. The majority were prehistoric, though a historic presence at the site was evidenced by a small quantity of brick and other historic artifacts. The earliest prehistoric occupation evident at 31ON1578 dated to the Middle Archaic period, but no intact contexts were identified. Most of the prehistoric artifacts were Middle Woodland grog tempered Hanover wares. An Early Woodland occupation was represented by a small quantity of limestone tempered Hamps Landing phase ceramics, and a Late Woodland occupation was evident based on the recovery of a few shell tempered White Oak phase ceramics. Preserved plant and animal remains were identified, as well as more than 20 apparently intact features consisting of pits with and without shell. Based on the results of the Phase II testing at 31ON1578, this site was recommended eligible for the NRHP. Data Recovery was subsequently undertaken at this site.

Unit excavation at site 31ON1581

Site 31ON1581 was an upland prehistoric site. The earliest occupation at the site was during the Middle Archaic period, as indicated by the recovery of Morrow Mountain points. There was also an abundance of Middle Woodland Hanover pottery fragments in the site assemblage. The recovery of Hamps Landing ceramics signified an Early Woodland component. A Middle Woodland component was evidenced by grog tempered Hanover sherds, which were the most common artifact type from the site. No evidence of cultural features or other intact contexts was identified. Based on the results of Phase II testing, this site was recommended not eligible for the NRHP, and no further investigation of the site was advocated.

Feature at site 31ON1582

Site 31ON1582 was a large historic site that yielded abundant artifacts, architectural debris, and faunal remains. Machine scrapes conductedduring testing revealed a rich historic midden area, a possible well feature, and a number of intact pit and post features. A nineteenth century cemetery associated with the Spicer family was included within the site boundaries. The site had intact archaeological contexts which were determined to be likely to add to our understanding of late eighteenth century/early nineteenth century settlement in this region. The site was recommended eligible for the NRHP, and subsequent data recovery excavations were undertaken.

Shovel tests at 31ON1589 identified several dense shell concentrations, along with ceramics that dated primarily to the Middle Woodland period. Eight 1 by 2 meter test units and 15 1 by 2 meter machine scrapes were excavated to sample the shell concentrations, to evaluate the potential for intact cultural features, and to collect a better artifact sample. After Phase II testing at site 31ON1589, it was recommended not eligible for the NRHP, and no further work was advocated.

Archaeological survey and testing revealed a rich archaeological heritage at the Summerhouse on Everett Bay tract. While many sites had been impacted by past land use and erosion, they still provide valuable settlement data about prehistoric and historic occupations in the region. Two sites, 31ON1578 and 31ON1582, were determined to have good integrity and the potential to contribute significant information about past occupations. These two sites were recommended eligible for the NRHP, and preservation in place or data recovery excavations were advocated to our client. Development plans could not be modified to insure the preservation of these sites. Consequently, data recovery plans were developed to guide additional research at these two sites.